SEWING 101: Beginner’s Guide To Basic Sewing Stitches

If you’re new to sewing, this basic sewing stitches guide is a great place for you to start. Before you hop on your sewing machine or get a needle and thread, read this infographic and familiarize yourself with the basic sewing stitches!

Basic Sewing Stitches | A Beginner’s Guide

Trust me, I know how it feels to be a beginner in sewing. But for me to gain more confidence in learning how to sew, I had to go back to the basics. I can still recall how excited I was to start on my beginner sewing projects, only to find myself confused and disheartened in the process. That’s when I realized I constantly need to brush up on my knowledge of the basic sewing stitches and put that into practice.

A big thank you to our friends from Take Lessons for their awesome and very helpful infographic. Now, we have a better guide to basic sewing stitches!

SEWING 101: Beginner's Guide To Basic Sewing Stitches
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1. Hand-Sewing Stitches

Running Stitch

  • Bring your needle up through the fabric from the back (wrong side).
  • Once the knot hits the fabric, make a stitch to the left or right.
  • Bring the thread back up and repeat.

Basting Stitch

  • Use the same technique as the running stitch but make longer stitches (between 1/4 inch and a 1/2 inch).

Catch Stitch/Cross-Stitch

  • Work from left to right: take tiny stitches on the hem, and then on the garment.
  • Keep stitches loose and even.


Back Stitch

  • Work from left to right: take a small stitch, then insert the needle at the end of the previous stitch and bring it out beyond the point where the thread emerges.

Blanket Stitch/Buttonhole Stitch

  • Secure the thread on the wrong side of the fabric. With the right side facing upward, insert the needle from back to front, about 1/8 inch from the edge.
  • Wrap the working head around behind the eye of the needle, then behind the point.
  • Pull the needle through, bringing the knot to the fabric edge.


Slip Stitch/Blind Stitch

  • Bring the needle through the fold of the hem and pick up a thread of fabric at the same point.
  • Make the stitches fairly loose, and about a 1/2 inch apart.

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2. Sewing Machine Stitches

Standard Forward/Backward Stitch

  • Begin straight stitching 1/8 -3/8 inches from the fabric edge.
  • Backstitch the forward stitch over the pinned or basted seam.
  • Repeat the reverse stitch to finish.

Zigzag Stitch

  • Provides a clean finish to raw edges, and can be used as a finishing technique in combination with a stay stitching line.
  • You can adjust both the width and length of this stitch.



  • Most sewing machines can make buttonholes, either with a fully-automatic buttonhole foot attachment or a pre-programmed buttonhole.


Blind Hem Stitch

  • Consists of two or three straight stitches, and then one wide zigzag/catch stitch.
  • Just as in the hand-stitched version of the blind hem, the fabric is folded under and away with the hem edge projecting.

3. Seam Finishes


  • Once the seam is sewn and pressed open, zigzag stitch the raw edge and trim away the excess.


Turn and Stitch

  • Fold and press the seam: leave a 1/4 inch and machine stitch along the folded edge to finish.
  • The seams are then pressed open or to one side (depending on the pattern).


Bias Tape

  • Best for unlined jackets and skirts.
  • Use 5/8 inch bias tape to enclose the raw edge and stitch through all layers.


Pinked Seams

  • Use pinking shears to trim away seam allowance.
  • You can also machine stitch 1/4 inch from the seam, and then trim the edges with pinking shears.

Hand Overcast

  • An alternative to the zigzag stitch, used in small areas or on very thick fabric.
  • Taking very loose stitches, overcast the raw seam edges by hand.


  • Used to strengthen a seam or as a decorative finish.
  • Press seams open, then stitch in place from the wrong side.


If you think you’re ready to start an easy sewing project, check out this circle skirt tutorial from Anita by Design:

Was that overwhelming for you? If it is, that’s really understandable. Not only is it information overload, but you have to practice each one as well. But trust me when I say, practice really does makes perfect. Plus, there’s really no need to rush in mastering all these stitches. Take it one day at a time and focus on one basic sewing stitch first. The fun is in the learning so relish every single moment!

Do you have other sewing tips to share with our beginners here? We’re excited to hear from you in the comments section below!

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Editor’s Note – This article was originally published in November 2016 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.


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